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How to Keep Track of Tasks That You Assign by Email [Best Practice]

15 January 2009 Posted by in category: Effectiveness with Tags , , ,

Have you ever sent an email asking a coworker to schedule a meeting, or a document for review to your boss, but remind bothered whether he will remember to do that or just read your email and forget?

Here is how to handle these situations. whenever you send an important task by email and want to be peaceful minded about it getting done, you should gain back control by scheduling a reminder. here is how to do that:

  1. Include yourself as a BCC (that is, add your email address in the BCC filed). That way, you’ll get a copy of the email without the other recipients knowing about it. Then,
  2. bcc-yourself

  3. Move that email from the inbox to your calendar. Save it as an event a few days later (enough time for the other person to complete the task).
  4. task-in-calender

  5. Send a reminder – if the due day arrives and you haven’t got any reply,  forward the email with a reminder.

Of course you can’t go through that process with all your emails, but for the important ones, It certainly worth the effort.

You can do that with Gmail or outlook

You can apply this method whether you’re using Gmail or Outlook.
Outlook users – to create the event, simply drag the email into the calendar folder.
Gmail users – to transform an email into an event, click “more actions” and then “create event”.


10 Responses to “How to Keep Track of Tasks That You Assign by Email [Best Practice]”

  1. Boaz Zemer 15 January 2009 at 7:26 pm (PERMALINK)

    This is a great suggestion indeed.
    At work, I used a similar method myself.
    I didn’t use the calendar for it thou. Here’s what I did:

    In Outlook*, you can set a due date for the mail to expire.
    With a rule, I made all sent mails where my E-mail appears in the BCC field, to go to certain tasks folders I made (combined with a rule to specify which task folder to use according to certain key words in the Subject field), and then i could see expired mails turn red and forward them onward.

    In Outlook 2003 this is done via ‘Options’ in the mail itself.
    In Outlook 2007 this is done with the ‘Follow Up’ button (red flag).

  2. eyal sela 15 January 2009 at 8:19 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thank Boaz,
    actually, I used a similar method when I worked with outlook (nowadays I’m using Gmail).

  3. Dmitri Eroshenko, Relenta 8 February 2009 at 4:33 pm (PERMALINK)

    Here’s how you do it in Relenta:

    1. Click on “Create task” from email
    2. Assign it to your colleague
    3. Set a due date
    4. Monitor its completion in the Agenda view


    1. No email multiplication (don’t we all have enough emails floating around already?!!)
    2. The person responsible automatically sees the task in her agenda
    3. When completed, no need to send more emails
    4. The whole process is as hands-free as is humanely possible

    Relenta puts an end to endless email hacks. Life is too short for that.

    Eyal, don’t get me wrong, this is a great hack for non-Relenta users. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks!

  4. eyalsela 9 February 2009 at 11:05 pm (PERMALINK)


  5. @Hagoleshet 11 February 2009 at 10:27 am (PERMALINK)

    I’m going to try this: How to Keep Track of Tasks That You Assign by Email

  6. Christoph Borer 22 April 2009 at 1:35 am (PERMALINK)

    Hi there. I'm using Rememberthemilk for GTD. I'd both send an email with a task to the recipient and would then create a “waiting for” item in the respective todo list in Rememberthemilk. I'd like to have a task management application that would allow me to automatically create a waiting for item while sending an email to the project member. I believe in email and would not like to ask task recipients to register with some online service to check webpages with their todo, because they won't do that.

    I've tried to work with the email interface of RTM but didn't find this so handy: you would send an email i.e. to John Doe, putting the task in the subject line, and putting the RTM inbox-Email in the bcc, then have to start the email body with variables that define the list the task should be put on, the tags to use and the due date. But this results in an email that would start with cryptic signs at the start that is not so funny.

    Anybody understanding what i'm looking for? perhaps a simple online ticketing system will do it? some good solutions around (free, reliable online service)?

  7. Lesja Gonchar 28 April 2011 at 9:20 am (PERMALINK)

    You can do it in just several clinks in WFT (workforcetrack). You can even create lists of you customized letters. I am not speaking about appointing tasks to an employee or a group of employees.

  8. Shane Pateras 28 April 2011 at 11:33 am (PERMALINK)

    mall and mid-size organisations

  9. Shane Pateras 28 April 2011 at 11:33 am (PERMALINK)

    Recently, we have decided to switch from Relenta to WorkForceTrack . Because it is cheaper than Relenta and has the same functions. As far as I know, they also offer some kind of discounts and localization from English to other languages. So, I am recommending you to try this

  10. Vlad 25 January 2012 at 9:52 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thank you Eyal Sela for this post,
    Assigning and tracking tasks with a help of email is a way which is quite widely used, but it is not the best possible one (please let me note this as I had been using it for a while) and let me please suggest some more alternative solutions. It is very helpful and easy to use collaborative software for task management, like VIP Task Manager that we use in our company. If you wish to review it you may find it on its web-site where you can find a lot of useful staff for tracking your tasks (I mean methodical tips and suggestions). Thank you !